Lumen Christi—Paschal Candle Procession

Lumen ChristiLumen Christi is available exclusively through CanticaNOVA Publications

2010 Translation of the Roman Missal:
“Lumen Christi. The Light of Christ.
Deo Gratias. Thanks be to God.”

Gary Penkala writes: “The Paschal Candle Procession at the Easter Vigil is a solemn and joyful liturgical moment. After having struck the New Fire and prepared the Paschal Candle, the celebrant commissions the deacon to lead the procession carrying the Light of Christ into the church followed by the ministers and congregation. Lumen Christi by Richard Clark facilitates all the traditional elements of this procession: singing the response thrice, each time on successively higher pitches and accompanying the procession with choral embellishment, all a cappella (as the organ is still silent). –Expertly arranged and beautifully written, Lumen Christi will enhance the grandeur of this special processional.” — CanticaNOVA Publications

“…expertly arranged and prayerfully sung processional magnified the pronouncement of Christ as light of the world. As the church became illuminated with our growing candlelight, the processional music soared in a circling succession of musical keys, continuing to resonate a fuller and more robust response, with each dialogue and choral embellished throughout this processional triptych of symbolic human sound. It was transformative.”

Denise Morency Gannon – Ministry & Liturgy Magazine

Helping Your Deacon, Priest, or Cantor Learn the Exsultet

EGEND HAS IT that Mozart would gladly have traded all his works if he could claim to have written the first line of the Exsultet. Even Wikipedia states, “Here the language of the liturgy rises to heights to which it is hard to find a parallel in Christian literature.”

But singing this can be intimidating! Six pages of endless notes and words? As singing the Exsultet is the rightful role of the Deacon, it may also be sung by a priest or a cantor. What if your deacon, priest, or cantor is not a professional musician? Here is an opportunity to work closely with them. Meanwhile, let’s break it down and “de-mystify” some of this as to better proclaim the mystery.

OR STARTERS, here are some essential practice videos. You can listen and follow the score at the same time. The first recording is sung by Fr. Jonathan Gaspar:

      * *  YouTube • Fr. Jonathan Gaspar “Exsultet”

      * *  Mp3 Download • Fr. Jonathan Gaspar “Exsultet”

The second resource is a wonderful page compiled by Jeff Ostrowski. Here you will find his recordings and practice videos in higher and lower keys. You will also find additional recordings and scores including the “Shorter Form” of the Exsultet:

      * * Exsultet Video Recording • Paschal Proclamation


It will be helpful to refer to some casual notes I wrote (with non-technical terms) in the margins of the Exsultet here. Download an unmarked score from ICEL here.

The first page which evokes great rejoicing, consists of three “verses” or “psalm tones” (labeled in my notes) that are exactly identical in form. Learn the first two and a half lines, and you have now learned nearly the entire first page! Furthermore, the characteristic leap of a fifth, unique to this section, evokes the joyful fanfare of the trumpet—“…let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!”


Next (in parenthesis, which is skipped if sung by a cantor—N.B. the rubrics on Pg. 1) the deacon or priest invokes the mercy of God so that he may worthily proclaim “this candle’s perfect praises.” This parallels the Orate, Fratres which prays that our efforts will be worthy and pleasing to God. Labeled in my notes as “V1A” and “V2A” it uses the same melodic elements of the previous three “verses.”


Have you ever sung the Preface? Have you heard it sung? Then the rest will sound very familiar! The next section is taken verbatim from the Preface Dialogue. It serves to introduce the main body of the proclamation, the “Praeconium Proper” which takes on the nature of a Preface. In fact it even begins “It is truly right and just…” Again, the parallels to the Liturgy of the Eucharist are unmistakable and point to heightened solemnity.

As such, this section uses the same melodic formula as a Preface. This Preface tone continues throughout the rest of the chant. Jumping off from “A”, the reciting tone is on “C”. There is an accent on “B”, which is frequently used as an alternate reciting tone. This sets up the characteristic cadence of the Preface tone. Therefore, it may be helpful for for non-musicians to think of “A” as a landing spot—the chant’s strongest gravitational pull, along with “C” and “B” as additional points of gravity. (See my notes on page 2.)

I’ve marked what appear to be three “verses” or phrases. Quite remarkably, the third “verse”/phrase (page 3) describes Christ’s sacrifice as the Passover Feast—connecting the Old Covenant with the New: “These then are the feasts of Passover, in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb, whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.”


Halfway down page three, I’ve marked what I like to call the “Litany of This is the Night.This is the night is referenced no fewer than seven times, often heightened with melismatic phrases. This emphasis is warranted, as this section conveys some of the most extraordinary implications of the Exsultet.

Again, the Old Covenant is connected with the New, from liberating Israel’s children from slavery in Egypt, to present day: “This is the night that even now, throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart…from the gloom of sin, leading them to grace…..” In this light of the present day, be especially mindful, that for Elect and Candidates of the Church, this indeed is the night of great importance in their lives!

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Exsultet follows shortly: “Our birth would have been no gain, had we not been redeemed.” This leads to a dramatic admission of God’s mercy through Christ’s redeeming power with this astounding assertion:

O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!


As a bookend to the invocation to worthily “sing this candle’s perfect praises,” the Exsultet concludes with prayers that God may “accept this candle, a solemn offering…this gift from your most Holy Church.” In conclusion, there is a prayer for perseverance for the candle, that it may serve to “overcome the darkness of this night” and that “this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: The one Morning Star that never sets…”

OME FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS: Most every line is a gem. But while trying to concentrate on the notes, make sure you allow the boundless blessings of this text to supersede all that you communicate to the faithful. Here’s how:

Patience. Revel in the text and do not worry about mistakes. Make them and move right past them. Even the best of singers will make plenty of errors on this holiest of nights.

Sing it a few times for the music director who should listen in various parts of the church for pacing and diction. Diction will be much more important than singing each note perfectly. If you feel your pacing is too slow, your diction over-enunciated, it is probably just right!

Take the long view: The Easter Vigil comes around every year. You may have opportunity to sing this again in the future. It will get better and more comfortable each time. More importantly, the text will take hold hold of your heart for the rest of your life!

It is an honor to sing this. Anyone who does will be indelibly changed in spirit. For those who listen, allow its breathless beauty to steal your heart!

“I Am Risen, Resurrexi” on Choralife Publisher

AM RISEN, RESURREXI for SATB and Organ is available on Choralife Publisher. This piece has been featured on Dr. Jennifer Pascual’s on Sounds from the Spires. The text is from the Introit for Easter Sunday morning.:

Psalm 139: 18, 5, 6 & 1-2: I am risen, and I am always with you, alleluia; you have placed your hand upon me, alleluia; your wisdom has been shown to be most wonderful, alleluia, alleluia. V. O Lord, you have searched me and known me; you know when I sit down and when I rise up.

Order here and listen:
I Am Risen, Resurrexi | Introit for Easter Sunday | SATB & Organ | LISTEN HERE

          • Scores are available for download as a PDF.
          • On Choralife, you will find three different prices for each piece. The price varies depending on the country you are from. Thus, great music is made available to musicians in countries throughout the world, regardless of their economic resources.

Mardi Gras and Burying the Alleluia

HE HEBREW WORD, “הללויה” or “Hallelujah,” is a word of unsurpassed joy. It is an acclamation of praise, thanksgiving and victory.

“Hallelujah” is really a two–word phrase meaning “Praise Yah.” It is a joyous and unabashed song of praise to God and appears many times in the Book of Psalms, most prominently in Psalms 111-117 and 145-150.

Untranslated by the early Christians, we have adopted the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” as our own. Using it again and again, most notably during Eastertide, we joyfully sing our praises for Christ’s triumph and victory over sin and death. Christ’s Sacrifice has become our Paschal meal. The tomb is empty. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Free Download:
PDF • “Alleluia” (for SAB Choir; Dedicated to Fernando Mavar-Ruiz and Melissa Malvar-Keylock)

However, this Sunday, (and for some on Tuesday at daily mass) we sing our final “Alleluias” as we prepare to begin our Lenten journey towards the Easter celebration of Christ’s glorious Resurrection. Likened to the exile of the Israelites in Babylon, the practice of “fasting” from singing or saying the word “Alleluia” began in some places perhaps as early as the fifth century. The popular practice of “burying the Alleluia” had its beginnings in a lay-led ritual, which included a solemn procession to the church cemetery with a scroll or even a coffin inscribed with the word “Alleluia.” The “Alleluia” was literally buried in the cemetery, leaving the people with the hope and anticipation of its Easter Sunday resurrection.

Where does that leave us this coming week during Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday? Affectionately known as “Fat Tuesday,” Mardi Gras is not merely one day, but a carnival season ending just before Ash Wednesday. “Fat Tuesday” is our last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. It is on this day that we express our last superlative praise of God by exclaiming “Alleluia.”

Just as on Mardi Gras we savor one final taste of indulgent sumptuousness, let us savor these last “Alleluias” as we would a last joyous meal with friends, confidants, family, and dear loved ones. Sing out and delight in this final sumptuous exuberance of God’s praise. Let its memory sustain us through the balance of this bleak winter; let its power strengthen us as we carry our own burdens and shoulder our particular crosses.

The hymn Alleluia, Song of Gladness (The Hymnal 1982, #122, 123; Words: Latin, 11th Cent.; trans. John Mason Neale) evokes the exile of the Israelites in Babylon as well as the fasting from singing “Alleluia” as we enter into Lent. Beginning with verse 2:

Alleluia, thou resoundest, true Jerusalem and free
Alleluia, joyful mother, all thy children sing with thee;
But by Babylon’s sad waters mourning exiles now are we.
Alleluia though we cherish and would chant for evermore
Alleluia in our singing, let us for a while give o’er
As our Savior in his fasting pleasures of the world forbore.

In the final verse, we patiently anticipate singing “Alleluia” in our Easter joy:

Therefore in our hymns we pray thee, grant us, blessed Trinity,
At the last to keep thine Easter with thy faithful saints on high;
There to thee for ever singing alleluia joyfully.

After this Sunday, our Alleluia is buried for the next six Sundays, not to be sung again until the Great Vigil of Easter when we stay awake and keep watch for the Resurrection of our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Nunc dimittis | SATB setting for Compline

UNC DIMITTIS (Lord, now you let your servant go in peace) is an SATB choral setting for Compline. This text from Luke 2:29–32 is also known as the Canticle of Simeon. 

Luke 2:29–32:
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.

Compline Hymn for Lent | Christe qui lux es et dies

HRISTE QUI LUX ES ET DIES (Christ, who art the light and day) is based on the ancient Compline Hymn for Lent, likely dating back to the Fourth Century. Although it was not retained in the Roman Breviary, its continued widespread use is perhaps attributed to its antiquity, exquisite poetry, and simple beauty, glorifying Christ as the World’s Light. With this universal theme, Its use may extend beyond Lent.

This setting utilizes two major themes: the opening choral statement and the ancient chant melody, both in naturally progressing keys. The opening theme provides an axis of symmetry, setting verses one, four, and seven, while the chant is the basis of verses two, three, five and six. The Amen recapitulates the chant theme inside a variation of the opening exposition. As such, the Light of Christ is proclaimed both deep within the soul and cried aloud for all.

Score available exclusively with Choralife Publishers.

Premiered by the The Seraphim Singers  | Jennifer Lester, Director
February 2, 2014, Candlemas — Feast of the Presentation
First Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts | Recorded LIVE: February 7, 2014 at St. Cecilia Church, Boston, Massachusetts
Recording Engineer: Evan Landry

Christ, who art the light and day,
You drive away the darkness of night,
You are called the light of light,
For you proclaim the blessed light.

We beseech you, Holy Lord,
Protect us this night.
Let us take our rest in you;
Grant us a tranquil night.

Let our sleep be free from care;
Let not the enemy snatch us away,
Nor flesh conspire within him,
And make us guilty in your sight.

Though our eyes be filled with sleep,
Keep our hearts forever awake to you.
May your right hand protect
Your willing servants.

You who are our shield, behold;
Restrain those that lie in wait.
And guide your servants whom
You have ransomed with your blood.

Remember us, O Lord,
Who bear the burden of this mortal form;
You who are the defender of the soul,
Be near us, O Lord.

Glory be to God the Father,
And to his only Son,
With the Spirit, Comforter,
Both now and evermore. Amen.

You Have Searched Me, Lord | Psalm 139 | for solo voice and piano

OU HAVE SEARCHED ME, LORD is now available for digital download for a mere $10!

Featured on SIRIUS XM 129 Radio, The Catholic Channel, the program’s host Dr. Jennifer Pascual (Director of Music, St. Patrick’s Cathedral) said, “I could listen to that all day!”

A setting of the Psalm 139, you can listen below to a recording by the astounding mezzo-soprano, M. Katherine Dulweber Lehr.

  • Upon purchase, you will receive an email from which you can download a PDF of the score. 
  • Digital PDF copy comes with reprint license limited to two copies. You do not have permission to disseminate the score.
  • Recorded by M. Katherine Dulweber Lehr, Mezzo-soprano.

    Psalm 139: 1-3, 7-16
    You have searched me, Lord and you know me
    You know when I sit and when I rise
    You know my thoughts from afar
    You searched me, and you know me
    Where can I flee from your presence?
    If I fall to the depths, you are there.
    If I rise up on the wings of the dawn, or if darkness hides me,
    Your right hand holds me fast.
    The night will shine like day,
    The dark is light to you.

    For you created my inmost being
    You knit me in my mother’s womb
    I praise you, because I am
    fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Your works are wonderful
    I know that fully well.
    Your eyes saw my unformed body before I was made,
    All of my days were ordained
    before one came to be.
    You have searched me, Lord
    and you know me.

    World Premiere Performance: May 10, 2012, St. Cecilia Church, Boston, Massachusetts

    Recording Engineer: Evan Landry 


    Ave Maria | SSAT or TTBB

    HIS SETTING OF AVE MARIA has been performed around the world, most notably by The American Boychoir, conducted by Fernando Malvar-Ruiz

    You may purchase a downloadable Digital PDF of the score. Upon purchase, you will receive an email from which you can download the score. Price varies on the number of copies you require (with a minimum of 15 copies.):

    • Digital PDF copy comes with reprint license limited to the number of copies you order.)
    • Includes both SSAT & TTBB versions!
    • Includes piano reduction for rehearsal
    • To purchase a license to make up to 15 copies ($29):
    • To purchase a license to make 16-30 copies ($49): 
    • To purchase a license to make 45 or more copies ($69): 
    • If your choir is non-professional, you are given a free license to copy as many as are required for practice and performance with the purchase of a digital copy (PDF).
    • However, if you are a for-profit organization and/or intend to record this work, or for placement in film, TV, any etc., please contact us at RJC AT rjcceciliamusic DOT com for additional contractual information.

    SSAT recording by The American Boychoir
    Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Director

    TTBB recording by the Schola Cantorum Sanctorum Angelorum
    Andrew Leung, Director

    Richard J. Clark on Choralife Publisher

    AM VERY PLEASED to be associated with a new publishing company, Choralife. Founded by Italian composer, conductor, organist, and author, Aurelio Porfiri, there are some unique global and local elements of Choralife:

    • Scores are available for download as a PDF.
    • For each work, you will find three different prices. The price varies depending on the country you are from. Thus, great music is made available to musicians in countries throughout the world, regardless of their economic resources. As such, Choralife likes to refer to itself as a GLOCAL publisher—one that reaches globally, but that is sensitive to serving on the local level.

    FINALLY, I OFFER HERE MY works newly published with with Choralife:

    O Sacrum Convivium — SSA Choir
    O Sacrum Convivium — TTB Choir | LISTEN HERE

    I Am Risen, Resurrexi | Introit for Easter Sunday | SATB & Organ | LISTEN HERE

    • Christe qui lux es et dies (Christ thou art the light and the day) | Compline setting for Lent
    Christe qui lux es et dies –SATB Choir | LISTEN HERE
    Christe qui lux es et dies — SATB with piano reduction for rehearsal

    • Nunc dimittis | Choral setting for Compline
    Nunc dimittis — SATB Choir | LISTEN HERE
    Nunc dimittis — SATB with piano reduction for rehearsal

    All Souls | Requiem for Trumpet and Organ

    equiem pour une américaine à Paris is a seven-movement work composed for trumpet and organ, it is reminiscent of an early Twentieth Century French Romantic style. Although quite faithful to many of the Gregorian Chants, this is not a liturgical work, but a concert work. It would be difficult to match the music to the liturgical action. However, I hope this may be a helpful and hopeful meditation on God’s merciful love, and our hopeful expectation of eternal life in the words of Credo quod Redemptor: “I believe that my Redeemer lives, and that on the last day, I shall rise from earth and in my flesh I shall behold God my Savior.”

    The CD is available for purchase ($9.99) and for download ($6.93)
    Score available at RJC Cecilia Music

    YouTube:  I. Introit | Requiem aeternam”
    YouTube:  II. Gradual | Requiem aeternam
    YouTube:  III. Dies Irae
    YouTube:  IV. Jubilis!
    YouTube:  V. Offertory | Domine Jesu Christe”
    YouTube:  VI. Communion | Lux aeterna
    YouTube:  VII. Last Farewell

    HIS WORK WAS COMPOSED for Richard Kelley, trumpet. Certainly, the trumpet is rarely, if ever associated with Gregorian Chant. However, Mr. Kelley possesses unusually extraordinary grace, dignity, and humility, all which sing beautifully through his playing. (Listen especially to IV. Lux Aeterna and the quote of “In Paradisum” in the VII. Last Farewell.)

    The one movement, which is a departure from the Requiem mass, is the “IV. Jubilis!” It briefly quotes the Tract (which of course comes before the Sequence in the mass–the order is reversed in this concert piece.) It is also loosely based on the Post-Vatican II addition of the “Alleluia” The “Jubilis!” theme returns at the end of the final movement, in hopeful expectation of eternal life in heaven.

    ICHARD KELLEY, TRUMPET was a soloist with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops 1984 and 1985 at the age of 16 and 17. He studied at the Juilliard School in NYC, he is a former member of Boston Brass Quintet and a current member of the Brass Band of Battle Creek. His credits include Broadway shows in NYC, TV ads, and film soundtracks. He has performed with artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Ray Charles, Steven Tyler, James Taylor, Glenn Close, Bernadette Peters, Jennifer Aniston, and Vanessa Williams. Conductor of the New England Swing in Nashua New Hampshire, he now plays frequently with the Boston Pops.

    • CD Cover Photography by Rev. James Martin, SJ | Window from St. Mary’s Chapel, Boston College
    • Recording Engineer: Evan Landry
    • Mastering: Paul Umbach
    • Richard Clark played the 1999 Smith & Gilbert Organ Recorded at St. Cecilia Church, Boston

    Requiem pour une américaine à Paris has been featured on “Sounds from the Spires” on SIRIUS XM 129 Radio, The Catholic Channel.

    Richard Kelley and I had the opportunity to speak with the program’s host, Dr. Jennifer Pascual, Director of Music for Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

    • PODCAST • Listen here to the program broadcast on 10.6.2013: